Editor's note: George Zimmerman, who was charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, is back in jail after a judge revoked his bond. As the headlines rekindle the debates over what happened that February night, a local Sanford, Fla., minister speaks out about where America has gone wrong.
“Paul, in my 30-plus years of law enforcement my only frustration is that I cannot get the churches in Sanford to work together.”
These were the words of the top law enforcement officer in our county after Trayvon Martin was killed. Those words are telling, becuase we know that a kingdom divided cannot stand (Mark 3:24).
The family is the microcosm of the church. The church is the microcosm of the city. The city is the microcosm of the state. And the state is the microcosm of the nation. Now, the word family comes from the word father. As the father goes so goes the family.
Did you know America has the most fatherless homes in the industrialized world? I don't think it's a coincidence that the U.S. is also ranked the most violent nation in the world. The implosion within our homes and communities has eroded the moral fabric of our country.
Divorce is ravaging our nation and moms are heading 95 percent of all single-parent homes in our communities. The ramifications are staggering for children raised in homes without their fathers. Consider the statistics:
- 71 percent of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
- 63 percent of all suicide victims come from fatherless homes.
- 80 percent of all rapists come from fatherless homes.
- 75 percent of children living in poverty come from fatherless homes.
- 85 percent of youth in prison come from fatherless homes.
Every six minutes in the state of Florida a youth is arrested for a crime—and most of them came from fatherless homes. Ninety percent of children in urban communities are from fatherless homes.
Folks, there’s sin in the camp. Where did we go wrong? I’m reminded of the Scripture: “I sought for a man among them, that should ... stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none” (Eze. 22:30, KJV).
We cannot impact our community because, as the apostle Paul said, we are carnal, for there is among us envying, strife and divisions; some say, I am of this denomination or that denomination (1 Cor. 3:3-4). It's said that it takes a catastrophe like 9/11 or a tragedy like the death of Trayvon Martin to get our attention and to bring us together for a cause.
According to 1 Corinthians 10:5-10, the five sins that keep us from coming into the fullness of what God wants for us are:
- Lust for evil things
- Temping Christ (Asking God to bless what is contrary to His will and inconsistent with His character)
- Murmuring (God inhabits the praises of His people, not the complaints).
Judgment begins with the house of God. In Isaiah 58 God called us to impact the fatherless and those in need. We have neglected the plight of the inner-cities. But I believe God is turning the hearts of the fathers and children. Our hearts must turn to God our Father. Our hearts must turn to our earthly fathers. And our hearts must turn to Israel, the Father of our faith.
Jesus, in his final High Priestley prayer to His Father, prayed for us to be one, (John 17:21), let us go forward as one …
Paul Benjamin is founder of The Central Florida Dream Center in the heart of inner-city Sanford, where crime, abuse and poverty run rampant. The Dream Center's goal is to break this cycle and offer services ranging from mentoring programs for adults and families to after-school programs for children.